Wales v Australia: Warren Gatland says he picked his team on form

Wales head coach Warren Gatland
Warren Gatland has been Wales head coach since November 2007
Autumn international: Wales v Australia
Venue: Millennium Stadium Date: Saturday, 8 November 2014 Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC TV, HD, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, online, mobile, the BBC Sport app and Connected TV

Head coach Warren Gatland says he has been criticised for "stubborn" selections in the past, but picked his Wales team to face Australia "on form".

Regulars scrum-half Mike Phillips and loose-head prop Gethin Jenkins are on the bench against the Wallabies.

Rhys Webb starts at nine instead of Phillips while Paul James beats long-time rival Jenkins to a prop spot.

Gatland also says Australia's team is "as expected" and anticipates a "frenetic" game.

"I think the criticism that has been levelled at me in the past is that I've been stubborn and not made changes," said Gatland.

"So if you look at Webb and Dan Biggar, they've been the form nine and 10 for the Ospreys, and they've been selected on form."

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There is added significance to this meeting between Wales and Australia, whose next encounter will be at the 2015 World Cup.

Gatland says selecting younger players such as Webb, Biggar and prop Samson Lee will help Wales develop in time for next year's tournament.

"We've really looked at the long-term plan in terms of this campaign, the Six Nations and the World Cup," said Gatland.

"We've run things a little bit differently in this campaign, in terms of looking at this camp.

"It's almost like a World Cup camp in terms of long-term preparation."

Wales have lost their last nine matches against the Wallabies, many of which have been by narrow margins.

The last time Gatland's side beat one of the southern hemisphere giants was their 2008 win over the Wallabies, and the New Zealander feels Wales are edging ever nearer to claiming a win.

"We're pretty aware we've been knocking on the door and putting ourselves in situations on a number of occasions to win games," he said.

"It's been close in a lot of those games and, maybe in four or five of them, we should have been more clinical and a little bit smarter and we could have won those games.

"Hopefully these are things we can learn from and make sure we're a bit more clinical when we get that opportunity again if it does arrive."

Gatland expects a formidable challenge from an Australian team that came within a whisker of beating New Zealand last month.

"I think that team that performed particularly well against the All Blacks were unlucky not to win that match. Michael Cheika, Australia's head coach, has shown a lot of faith in that team," said Gatland.

"When we play the southern hemisphere teams, they come here fully loaded.

"They don't look at putting second-string sides against us.

"Maybe they do that against one or two of the other teams but, when they play Wales, I think it's a sign of respect there are no second-string players playing against us.

"We're up against the best, and that's exactly how we want it."


Wales: Leigh Halfpenny (Toulon), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), George North (Northampton Saints), Jamie Roberts (Racing Metro), Liam Williams (Scarlets), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), Paul James (Bath), Richard Hibbard (Gloucester), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Unattached), Sam Warburton (Capt), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).

Replacements: Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Bradley Davies (London Wasps), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Mike Phillips (Racing Metro), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Cory Allen (Cardiff Blues).

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